TAMPA — The kids at Martinez Middle School know how to stick together.
They are all in the Martinez chorus and plan to join the Steinbrenner High School chorus. Since the two schools are right next door, it won’t be much of a transition, but the eighth-graders know they are moving from being the big fish to little guppies once they begin school next year.
Jennifer Clifford said it will be weird leaving Martinez. She realizes that while the distance isn’t much, the experience will be a whole new world.
“I am a little scared about moving up to high school,” Jennifer said. “I am in the upper class here at Martinez. I know that you kind of stay out of the way when you get into high school and I’m not used to that.”
Jennifer’s sport is soccer and she wants to play at Steinbrenner — that’s a quick way to make friends. Her Martinez classmate Ashleigh Ingram plays basketball, so she plans to get involved this summer at Steinbrenner’s basketball camp.
Still, she knows there will be challenges.
“I realize that you have to find out who your friends are pretty quick,” Ashleigh said. “You can’t be friends with everyone, but since most of us are going to the same school, it won’t be too hard if we all stick together.”
“It’s all about learning to be independent,” Jennifer added. “We know what it can be like. Not everybody is going to like each other, but that’s part of high school. If you read Twitter, it can be really tough. So you make friends and ignore the people that don’t like you.”
The Martinez eighth- graders also have some political aspirations. Toby Manulak II said he wants to major in political science once he makes it into college. Jennifer said she sees herself as a politician.
Ashleigh has other expectations — she wants to go to medical school.
Even though they still have four years of high school at Steinbrenner, the Martinez kids already have their futures planned out. Toby is planning on going to Yale. Ashleigh has her heart set on the University of Florida and Jennifer has already picked the University of Mississippi.
Despite their high expectations for the future, they are leaving Martinez with great memories they say they won’t forget.
“It’s bittersweet,” Jennifer said. “It was fun being in eighth-grade and being at the top and now we have to be the new kids again. We had so many good times. High school is a little scary, but at least we will all be together.”